Three months before Saturday’s Club Q shooting that left five dead and 18 injured, a Gazette reporter spoke to Anderson Lee Aldrich in a phone call that sparked the beginning of an investigation into the alleged gunman’s past. These are the recounted details of that call and earlier investigation.
On Aug. 26, Aldrich called an editor at The Gazette and left a voicemail about a published story that identified him as the suspect in a June 2021 bomb threat against his mother that forced neighbors to evacuate from a Lorson Ranch neighborhood block in southeast Colorado Springs for three hours. The information in the story came from a press release from El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deborah Mynatt. The then-21-year-old man was accused of two counts of felony menacing and three counts of first-degree kidnapping, but The Gazette would learn that no formal charges were pursued in the case, which had been sealed.
In the voicemail, Aldrich called the story’s content “libelous” as well as “damaging” to his reputation. "There is absolutely nothing there, the case was dropped, and I'm asking you either remove or update the story," Aldrich continued.
"The entire case was dismissed," he said.
A subsequent search of online court and jail records yielded no history of an arrest or charges pressed against an Anderson Aldrich. On Aug. 29, a Gazette reporter reached out to the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in an email asking officials to “confirm that the District Attorney’s Office did drop charges against Aldrich,” and asked that the District Attorney provide “information on why the charges were dropped.”
On Aug. 31, the reporter called the phone number of the caller who had left the voicemail days earlier to confirm that the caller was the man arrested in the 2021 bomb threat incident and to better understand the details of the event and why the case had supposedly been dismissed. The number was listed as belonging to Jonathan Pullen, who is Aldrich's step-grandfather.
When the reporter introduced themselves as a journalist with The Gazette and asked to speak with an Anderson Aldrich, the man requested that the reporter state the exact purpose for the call before he would identify himself.
During the call, Aldrich again requested that The Gazette remove the bomb threat coverage from its website because it could hurt his job search and credibility with future employers. The court had filed a “motion to not proceed,” he said, and claimed that his case “should’ve been thrown out right at the beginning.”
The reporter told him they had confirmed that no record of his arrest or arrest-only charges existed, but explained that they would only consider editing the story at the discretion of the editor and after they had confirmed Aldrich’s claims with the District Attorney’s Office.
The Gazette removes names from its archives only in rare circumstances when information is inaccurate or outdated.
The reporter asked Aldrich to elaborate on details provided by the sheriff’s office in the press release, including that his mother called law enforcement because he threatened to “cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.” Aldrich was also asked about the length of his standoff with deputies, why he did not immediately surrender and who he was accused of kidnapping.
“All of that is false,” Aldrich said, claiming that the sheriff’s office had pressed charges “without evidence.”
“They tried to bury me under (the charges) and keep me behind bars,” said Aldrich, who sounded calm and articulate throughout the call - far from the accusatory tone in his initial voicemail.
He also said he spent two months in jail. The Gazette has requested the 2021 case and jail records from the sheriff’s office to verify Aldrich’s claims, but has not received a response as of Tuesday evening.
When pressed about when the case was dismissed and why he had been incarcerated for the claimed duration, Aldrich said that a court mandate required him to not say anything more about the incident — because his case had been sealed.
While Aldrich’s ire for local law enforcement was apparent during the call, he maintained a pleasant and gracious demeanor that contrasts sharply with the explicit threats hurled toward deputies by a man believed to be Aldrich during the 2021 bomb threat that can be heard in video footage obtained by The Gazette on Monday.
“If they breach, I’ma f----ing blow it to holy hell,” Aldrich can be heard saying about law enforcement in the video. “Go ahead and come on in, boys. Let’s f----ing see it.”
In a phone call to The Gazette on the same day as the call with Aldrich - Aug. 31 - District Attorney’s Office spokesman Howard Black said he could only confirm that “the record does not exist” about the named suspect.
His response at the time was congruent with what agencies must say in response to questions about sealed cases, District Attorney Michael Allen said during a Monday press conference.
“(A statute) requires us to give very specific answers to questions about cases that may or may not be under a seal order,” Allen said when asked if he was aware of Aldrich’s 2021 interactions with deputies. “That statute requires us to say, in response to questions about (a sealed case), that no such record exists.’”
Allen would not say whether Aldrich is the same man in the bomb threat and in the shooting. He said state law automatically restricts public access to any specific prior incidents involving the suspect and to cases that are dismissed for any reason.
The change in law, which took effect in 2019, was designed to protect people accused of a crime in instances when a case is dismissed, he said.
Aldrich has since been booked into the El Paso County jail, according to jail records and a tweet from Colorado Springs police on Tuesday.
The alleged gunman was turned over to sheriff’s officers at the jail by Colorado Springs police. Aldrich had been detained at the hospital, according to police, and is facing 10 arrest-only charges — five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias-motivated crimes causing bodily injury. He is being held without bond.